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3rd Iowa Light Artillery




Donald Cope
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The 3rd Iowa Battery was organized under special authority from the Secretary of War, during the months of August and September, 1861, at Dubuque, Iowa, under the name of the Dubuque Battery, and was attached to the Ninth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Col. William Vandever commanding, while it remained in rendezvous and for some time after taking the field. On September 3, 1861, the first detachment of the battery, with William H. McClure as First Lieutenant, was mustered into the service of the United States and went into quarters at Camp Union, near Dubuque. The necessary additional enlistments -- to complete the organization of a full battery of artillery-- were soon secured and on September 24, 1861, the muster in of the battery was completed. The names of the commissioned officers appear upon the original roster, as follows: 1 Captain, Mortimer M. Hayden; Senior First lieutenant, WIlliam H. McClure; Junior First Lieutenant, Melville C. Wright; Senior Second Lieutenant, William H. Crozier, and Junior Second Lieutenant, Jerome Bradley. The roster shows that, upon completion of its muster, the battery numbered one hundred forty men, rank and file.

The Battery, with the Ninth Iowa Infantry, left Camp Union on September 26, 1861, and embarking on the steamer "Canada" , was conveyed to St. Louis, arriving there on the 30th, and going into quarters at Benton Barracks, near that city. There, uniforms and horses were provided for the battery, but its equipment was not completed until two months later, owing to the difficulty of procuring guns and the other articles necessary to place the battery in condition to take the field for active service. In the meantime, only such instruction could be given as related to the rudiments of artillery drill, and discipline. On November 13, 1861, the company was ordered to proceed to Pacific City, Mo., 35 miles west of St. Louis, where it remained until near the last of January, 1862. About the first of December it received its armament of six guns -- four six pounder bronze guns and two twelve pounder howitzers -- and the other requisite equipage appertaining to a field battery. The officers and men at once began to drill, and, by the time they were ordered to take the field, had become quite proficient in handling the guns. The battery was several times reviewed and inspected and, in connection with the Ninth Iowa Infantry, went through the movements that might be required when engaged in conflict with the enemy. The inspecting officers reported that it was in condition to take the field and to render good service, and on Jan 25, 1862, Captain Hayden was ordered to proceed with the battery to Rolla, Mo., to which place it was conveyed by rail and, upon its arrival there, joined the army under command of Major General, Curtis, then about to begin an aggressive campaign against the enemy.

On Jan. 28, 1862, the army, under General Curtis, began its advance toward Springfield, Mo., where General Price, in command of the Rebel army, had established his headquarters, and where it was expected a battle would occur. The weather was cold, it rained much of the time, and the roads were in such terrible condition that the artillery and transportation trains of the army made slow and difficult progress. Upon reaching Lebanon, sixty-five miles from Rolla, General Curtis halted his army, and proceeded to thoroughly reorganize it before again advancing. The Third Iowa Battery was assigned to the Second Brigade, Fourth Division, Army of the Southwest. The brigade consisted of the following troops: Ninth Iowa, Twenty-fifth Missouri Infantry and Third Illinois Cavalry, and was put under command of Col. William Vandever of the Ninth Iowa. After putting his army in the best possible condition to meet the enemy, General Curtis again moved forward towards Springfield. The rebel General Price was awaiting reinforcements, which failed to reach him at Springfield, and he therefore determined not to risk an engagement at that place. On the night of Feb 12, 1862, the rebel army began its retreat toward the Boston Mountains, in Arkansas, and on the next day, the advance of General Curtis' army took possession of Springfield.

Early on the morning of Feb 14th, the army took up its line of march in pursuit of the retreating army. At Flat Creek, fifty miles from Springfield, the Third Iowa Battery fired its shot at the enemy. Its brigade leading the advance of the army, and coming within long range of the enemy's rear guard, the battery opened fire, but, after firing a few shots, the rebels got out of range. The pursuit was continued and the army crossed the Missouri line and reached Sugar Creek, in Arkansas, where the rear guard of the rebel army was again encountered by the cavalry which had advanced some distance beyond the Union Infantry. After a brief engagement--in which the cavalry sustained considerable loss--Vandever's Brigade was ordered to move forward, and the Third Iowa Battery was soon engaged with a rebel battery in its front. The gunners of the battery delivered their fire so accurately that, in less than thirty minutes, they had silenced the fire of the rebel battery, and it had limbered up and was galloping of the field, the rest of the rebel force also retreating before the advance of Vandever's Brigade. There were no casualties among the officers and men of the battery in this affair, but it lost two horses killed and had one caisson disabled by the enemy's fire. General Curtis complimented the battery for the skillful management of its guns.

Upon learning that the rebel army had been largely reinforced, General Curtis halted his army at Cross Hollow, Ark., from which place his cavalry scouts kept close watch upon the movements of the enemy. It later became necessary to place the different divisions at considerable distances apart, in order to obtain supplies from the surrounding country, and the enemy, taking advantage of the situation, was preparing to attack these separated forces and prevent them from being concentrated. On the 4th of March, a portion of Vandever's Brigade, consisting of detachments of the 9th Iowa, the 24th Missouri Infantry, and Third Illinois Cavalry. with one section of the Third Iowa Battery under command of Lieutenant Wright, the whole force, commanded by General Vandever, started on a reconnaissance in the direction of Huntsville, Ark., which place was reached after a march of forty-five miles. A portion the enemy's supplies and some prisoners Col. Vandever learned that the enemy was marching to the attack of General Curtis' army, and he at once started upon his return march, which was conducted with such skill and energy as to avoid coming into contact with the enemy. It was one of the most remarkable and exhausting marches made during the war, by a mixed command of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, covering a distance of forty-seven miles in one day General Curtis, in anticipation of an attack by the enemy, had wisely concentrated his army in a strong position at Pea Ridge. The attack was made in a most determined manner, early on the morning of March 7, 1862. The Third Iowa Battery proceeded to the front with its brigade. Two sections of the battery went into action near Elkhorn Tavern, relieving the First Iowa Battery, which had suffered heavy loss, and had several of its caissons exploded by the fire of the rebel batteries in its front. The position was one of most exposed on the field. The rebel gunners had gotten the range quite accurately, and their fire was destructive. Before the two sections of the Third Iowa had been under fire ten minutes, one gun had been disabled, one caisson blown up, several of the men wounded, and a number of the horses killed and disabled. Colonel Carr, the division commander, observing the desperate situation in which the two sections had been placed, and realizing the danger of their being entirely disabled or captured, ordered them to fall back out of range and await assignment to a less exposed position. The entire battery then took a position to the right of Elkhorn Tavern, where it remained until the entire division was forced to fallback in the evening. The operations of the battery during both days of the battle are described in the official report of Captain Hayden, as follows:

Headquarters Hayden's Battery

(Attached to Ninth Iowa Infantry)

Sugar Creek, Ark. March 9, 1862

COLONEL: Hearwith please find statement of the part taken by this command, in the actions of the 7th and 8th instant: Pursuant to your order I sent forward one section of the battery, in charge of Lieutenant M.C. Wright, who took position in the road directly in from of and under a heavy fire from the enemy's battery. Lieutenants W.H. McClure and J. Bradley, with their respective sections, were ordered forward to engage the enemy on the right and left of the first section. Supported by the Ninth Iowa Infantry, we held this position until the rebel guns had disabled ten pieces and killed and wounded many of the men and horses. The engagement became general along the whole line, with both artillery and infantry. The enemy's fire becoming too severe, we withdrew, leaving behind our disabled limber and several killed and wounded horses. We then took position about three hundred yards in rear of the point where our fire was first opened, remaining there until near evening, (having held the enemy in check during the entire day,) at which time the whole division fell back to a large open field, where it halted during the night. Here the enemy pursued, but, being vigorously engaged by our artillery and infantry, was driven back with severe loss. During the engagement we attempted to plant the pieces of the battery upon a commanding eminence, but failed in the endeavor, an immense force of the enemy's infantry charging upon us, carrying away one of my guns, and killing and wounding two of my own, and several of the battery horses. On the morning of the 8th we took position on the enemy's left, unsupported by either infantry of cavalry, opening fire on the slope where our guns were captured the previous day. Shortly afterwards the enemy opened upon us from a battery in our front, to which we then turned our fire, silencing his guns and driving him from the field. Our loss is two men killed and seventeen wounded. We lost twenty-three horses killed and three disabled. Three of our guns and one limber were captured by the enemy. I desire to make mention of the coolness and bravery of the whole command during the entire engagement, especially of Lieutenants Wright and Bradley, who, fearless of all personal danger, met the enemy with a spirit worthy of the highest commendation, and cannot overlook the efficient services rendered by Sergeants House, Harkins and Weaver, alike of Corporals Martin, Guilford, Goldthorp and Rowls. The latter, while spiking the last gun, left upon the field, was severely wounded in both legs.

I am, Colonel, respectfully yours,

M.M. Hayden, Captain Commanding Battery

Colonel William Vandever, Commanding Second Brigade, Fourth Division.

Colonel William Vandever, the brigade commander, makes mention of the battery, in his official report as follows:

I desire also to call especial attention to the Dubuque Light Battery, under the command of Captain M.M. Hayden, whose report is appended. Captain Hayden and every officer of this battery acquitted themselves with the highest credit. They bore the hottest fire of the enemy with coolness and intrepidity, the men under the skillful lead of Captain Hayden performing their duty with cheerfulness and alacrity, and never faltering. He mentions special instances of bravery in his report hereto appended, to which would call especial attention . . . . . I herewith append a list and casualties.

Colonel E.A. Carr, the division commander, also makes mention of the battery in his official report, as follows:

Captain Hayden, commanding the Dubuque Battery, acted with his usual coolness in superintending the operation of his guns. He had two horses killed under him..... His battery fired until the last moment, and , in consequence thereof, lost two pieces with several of his men being shot down while trying to attach them to the limber. The three pieces of artillery lost that day by Captain Hayden's Battery were recovered by our troops on the next day........On the second day my division, being on the right, did not come into contact with the enemy. Captain Hayden's Battery, however, did excellent service, having been posted by the General in person, so as to cross-fire on the enemy.

The forgoing statement of Colonel Carr is fully confirmed by the official report of Major General Samuel R. Curtis, the commander in Chief of the army, as shown by the following extract:

I repaired myself to the extreme right and found an elevated position considerably in advance, which commanded the enemy's center and left. Here I located the Dubuque Battery, directed the right sing to move its right forward so as to support the artillery, and give direction the advance of the entire right wing. Captain Hayden soon opened a fire which proved most galling to the foe, and a marker for the line to move upon. . . At one time a battery was opened in front of Hayden's battery on the extreme right so close I could not tell whether it was the enemy's or an advance of Hayden's, but riding nearer I soon perceived its true character, and directed the First Iowa and the Peoria Battery to cross-fire on it, which soon drove it back to the common hiding place, the deep ravines of Cross Timber Hollow.

During the series of engagements the Third Iowa Battery had expended over one thousand two hundred rounds of ammunition. This quantity of shot and shell, fired from the guns of one field battery, will give something of the immense amount of artillery ammunition alone which was hurled through the air by the batteries of the contending armies. Add to this the expenditure of rifle and musketry ammunition, by the cavalry and infantry of both armies and the aggregate weight of lead and iron expended in the battle of Pea Ridge would exceed one hundred tons. General Curtis reported the aggregate loss of his army at one thousand three hundred eighty-four and says: "The loss of the enemy was much greater, but their scattered battalions can never furnish a correct report of their killed and wounded."

Three days after the battle, the battery took up the line of march with the army, and moved northward to Keithsville, where it halted and remained until April 5th, when the march was resumed and continued to Batesville Ark., which place was reached about the 10th of May. The battery participated in an expedition to Searcy, on the Little Red River, returning to Batesville about the 20th of June. The Army then marched to Helena Ark., where it arrived on July 12, 1862. During the march the troops suffered greatly from the excessive heat and scarcity of provisions. Several expeditions were organized and sent out from Helena, in which the Third Iowa Battery participated, the most prominent among which were Hovey's Mississippi expedition, in November, 1862; Gorman's White River expedition, January, 1863; and the Yazoo Pass expedition, March 1863. In the latter expedition the battery took and active part in the bombardment of Fort Pemberton. It then returned to Helena, where it constituted part of the garrison, and , on July 4, 1863, took an important part in the defense of the place against an attack of the rebel forces under command of General Holmes. First Lieutenant Wright was at that time in command of the battery. His official report is here quoted in full, as follows:

Headquarters Third Iowa Battery,

Helena Ark., July 5, 1863

Captain, In obedience to the order of the General commanding, I have the honor to herewith submit the following report of the part taken by the Third Iowa Battery in the engagement of yesterday. In accordance with the previous instructions, at 3:30 a.m. I ordered one section of the battery, under command of Second Lieutenant O.H. Lyon, to a point near Battery D, on the left of our line. The second section, under command of Sergeant L.S. House, which has for some time been in park on the right of the line, immediately upon the commencement of the battle pushed forward a few hundred yards to our extreme right, and took position, supported by a portion of the Second Infantry Brigade, Col. Rice commanding, and the Cavalry Brigade, Col. Clayton commanding. Immediately after getting into position, this section was joined by a battery with steel guns attached to the First Indiana Cavalry, and Col. Clayton then assumed command of the whole. This officer then changed the position of his guns to a point on the east side of the levee, on our right, where he remained during the whole of the engagement. At 6 a.m. the twelve-pound howitzer, in charge of Sergeant L.S. House, was disabled by the breaking of the understraps which fasten the cheeks to the axletree, the accident being caused by the recoil of the gun. It was immediately take to park for repairs, but could not be finished in time to take further part in the engagement. At 6:30 a.m., the third section, which until then remained in camp, was dispatched in charge of Orderly Sergeant J.J. Dengl, to reinforce the right wing. On taking position, it immediately opened, and kept up a constant and effective fire against the guns of the enemy, posted on the hills on the extreme right, until recalled by order from the General commanding, to Fort Curtis, where it was again effectively employed against the enemy in their last charge on our works. The section under Lieutenant Lyon was first engaged about 7 a.m., and was after that constantly in action until the close of the battle, and was for a considerable length of time very hotly pressed. During the charge on Battery C, Lieutenant Lyon changed the position of his six-pounder gun to command the ravine running from the Catholic Church westward, and by his fire contributed very materially in repulsing the enemy. Separated as the battery was during the whole engagement, it is impossible to give as complete an account of the part taken in it, by the different sections, and to notice particularly the conduct of my officers and men, as I could wish. While my entire command did their duty nobly, justice to them compels me to report particularly with regard to the following officers: Lieutenant Lyon was, during the entire engagement, with his section, directing the fire of his guns, and encouraging the men by his example to deeds of valor, which I am confident the General commanding will appreciate. The Lieutenant had his horse wounded twice, severely though not fatally. >From Colonel Clayton I learn that Sergeant House, in charge of section, behaved finely, displaying a great deal of courage and energy, as did also the other non-commissioned officers in his command. Of Orderly Sergeant J.J. Dengl, having charge of third section, I can speak from personal observation. He was on hand, ready and active, with a thorough appreciation of the situation. He showed himself to be emphatically an artillery officer. Lieutenant Lyon speaks very highly of the conduct, under the most trying circumstances, of the non-commissioned officers in his command, particularly of Corporal Daniel Folsom, gunner. The loss of the battery is very light, consisting of one horse killed and sever horses wounded. All of which is respectfully submitted.

    I am your most obedient servant,

    M.C. Wright First Lieutenant

    Third Iowa Battery, Commanding

Captain A. Blocki, A.A.G.U.S. Forces

Lieutenant Wright in his report giving an account of the main points of interest in the history of the battery up to November 2, 1864 again refers to the part taken by the battery in the defense of Helena, and states that if fired over one thousand rounds, but escaped without any loss of men, owing to the fact that the fortification afforded excellent protection, and that the loss of eight horses constituted the casualties sustained by the battery in that engagement.

The battery formed a part of General Steele’s forces in his Little Rock expedition, participated in the capture of that place, and also took part in the expedition of General Rice against Arkadelphia, in October, 1863. In December, 1863, and January, 1864, there were a sufficient number of re-enlistments to enable the battery to acquire the title of a veteran organization. The men who re-enlisted were those who had entered the service when the battery was first organized and did not include those who had subsequently joined the battery as recruits. Those who thus assumed the obligation of an extended term of service were officially designated as "Veterans" and were granted a furlough of thirty days. They were accordingly sent to Iowa and, upon the expiration of their furloughs, rejoined the battery at Little Rock, Ark., where it had remained during their absence. In May, 1864, the battery received new guns and a complete new equipment. There is no record of its operation during the summer of 1864, but the presumption is that it remained on duty during that period as a part of the garrison at Little Rock, Ark. 9 A large number of recruits joined the battery while it was stationed at that place, and it was thus provided with its full complement of men, in anticipation of the muster out of those whose term of service was about to expire.

At the expiration of their three years’ term of service, the non-veterans (those who had not re-enlisted) were sent to Iowa, under the command of Captain Hayden, and were mustered out of the service of the United States on October 3, 1864. The gallant Captain and his men, who had faithfully served their country for the full term of their original enlistment, were veterans in fact, although only their comrades who remained in the service until the close of the war were given that official designation. They had fully discharged their obligation to the government and were, therefore, entitled to the honorable discharge which they received, together with the grateful appreciation of their splendid service by the loyal people of their State and Nation. Captain Wright - under date of November 2, 1864 - closes his report, as follows:

The following is the present roster of officers of the battery: Captain, Melville C. Wright; Senior First Lieutenant, Orlo H. Lyon; Junior First Lieutenant, Joseph J. Dengl; Senior Second Lieutenant, Leroy S. House, and Junior Second Lieutenant, Hiland H. Weaver. The armament of the battery consists of four ten-pounder Parrott guns, caliber three inch, and two three-inch bronze rifle guns. The battery is at present in comfortable winter quarters, built by ourselves, and is in a good state of drill and discipline.

The report of Captain Lyon - heretofore referred to - describes in detail the subsequent movements and operations of the battery. It did not again come into conflit with teh enemy, but performed important duties, the most notable of which were as follows: During the months of October and November, 1864, while the rebel forces under General Price were invading the State of Missouri, it became necessary to forward a large quantity of commissary stores from Little Rock, Ark., to the Federal troops stations at Fort Smith. Navigation of the Arkansas River was rendered unsafe by reason of the occupation of forces of the enemy of intermediate points along its shores. An expedition by land was therefore organized, consisting of a large wagon train, heavily loaded with supplies, and guarded by a sufficient force of infantry and artillery to protect it from capture by the enemy. The Thirty-third Regiment of Iowa Infantry, commanded by Col. C.H. Mackey, and one section (two guns) of the Third Iowa Battery, commanded by Lieutenant J.J. Dengl, were detailed to guard the train, and took up the long march for Fort Smith on October 30th. Soon after the march began it was learned that the rebel army, under General Price, had been defeated and driven out of Missouri and was then retreating into Arkansas. As the expedition under Col. Mackey was on the line traversed by the rebel army, the danger of an attack by a superior force of the enemy at once became apparent. Fortunately, however, the enemy had been so thoroughly defeated and was being so vigorously pursued that, although a large number of his troops came dangerously near the train and its escort, they did not discover it, and passed swiftly on, leaving the expedition to continue its march to Fort Smith, where it arrived in due time and delivered the much needed supplies to the troops stationed there. Halting but two days for rest, the expedition started on its return march, during which many stragglers from the rebel army were captured. The expedition reached Little Rock on November 27, 1864, having marched three hundred sixty miles, much of the way over difficult roads and through heavy rain storms, making the march a most arduous one for both men and horses.

During the fall of 1864, a number of recruits were received by the battery, increasing its aggregate strength to nearly two hundred men. The men were employed mainly during the following winter in completing the works at Fort Steele. The spring of 1865 found the battery in splendid condition for active service in the field, but the war was virtually ended, and troops were retained at various places in the South for the purpose of maintaining order and assisting the civil authorities in protecting the lives and property of the citizens against the lawless bands which infested the country. The tribe of Indians, occupying the Indian Territory on the borders of Arkansas and Missouri, were in a state of unrest. Many of them had joined the rebel army, and it became necessary for the military authorities to assume supervision over them and bring them back to their former friendly relations with the Unites States government. For this purpose a general council was held with the Indians at Fort Smith, In September, 1865, and the Third Iowa Battery was ordered to proceed to Fort Smith, where troops were being concentrated prior to the holding of the council. The battery left little Rock on August 14, 1865 and marched the entire distance of one hundred eighty mile, unattended by other troops, and reached Fort Smith on August 28th. It remained there while the council with the Indians was being held and, at its conclusion, turned of the animals belonging to the battery to the Post Quartermaster. There were one hundred fifteen horses and forty-eight mules, all in excellent condition. The guns and other equipments of the battery were loaded on the steamer "American" and, with the officers and men, started for Little Rock, which place was reached on October 4th, when Captain Lyon received orders to turn over the guns and ordnance stores and proceed with his company to Davenport, Iowa. The journey of sixteen hundred miles by steamer was begun at Little Rock on October 7th and ended at Davenport on the 18th. There on October 23, 1865, the officers and men of the Third Iowa Veteran Battery were mustered out of the service of the United States. It had entered the service more than four years before, with an aggregate strength of one hundred forty men, rank and file. Owing to the large number of recruits it had received during the latter part of its service, there were one hundred fifty three names borne upon its rolls at the date of its muster out.

The Third Iowa Battery has a most honorable record of service. Its field of operations was somewhat circumscribed, and during the latter part of its service, it did not have the opportunities for actual conflict with the enemy which had marked its earlier career. But, wherever it was placed, its conduct was so as to merit and receive the highest commendation of commanding officers, for efficient and faithful service. It therefore occupies an honored place in the military history of the State of Iowa, and of the United States.

Summary of Casualties

Total Enrollment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . 230

Killed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Wounded . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 18

Died of Wounds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . 1

Died of Disease. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Discharged for Wounds, disease or other causes. .32

Captured . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .- -

Transferred. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .- -


¹ Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1863, Vol. 2, pages 666 to 670 inclusive. Original Roster of the Battery.

Links

Artillery Equipment & Basics

24th Iowa Vol. Infantry History

9th Iowa Vol Infantry from Buchanan Co.

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Transcribed for the by Donald Cope.


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